Measles and malnutrition killing Somali refugee children


Somali refugees lining up for hot meals at the Dollo Ado transit centre in southern Ethiopia.

Hundreds of Somali children have died over the past two months as a deadly combination of measles and acute malnutrition takes its toll on Somali refugees in Ethiopia, according to the UN Refugee Agency UNHCR.

The agency says at least 10 children under the age of five are dying daily at the Kobe refugee camp in Ethiopia.

The camp which was opened in June this year is host to over 25,000 Somali refugees.

Adrian Edwards is from UNHCR.

"UNHCR and our partners are working to respond to the emergency and control the outbreak. A mass vaccination campaign against measles was completed in Kobe camp yesterday, targeting all children between the ages of six months and 15 years. It will continue in the other camps in the coming days. Most of the refugees arriving from Somalia are from rural areas, and the camps in Ethiopia may be in many instances the first time people have had contact with formal health facilities. A key priority for all partners working in the camps is to promote awareness of the health and nutrition programmes available for refugees, many of whom have not been accessing these services."

UNHCR says although the situation has reached alarming levels, the deadly combination of measles and acute malnutrition has historically caused similar death rates in previous famine crises in the region.

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